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Katie Ledecky-Sarah Sjostrom rematch at worlds not in the cards

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Sarah Sjöström will not swim the 200m freestyle at the world championships next month, passing up a showdown with Katie Ledecky, her agent confirmed Wednesday.

Sjöström might have had the best shot to keep Ledecky from sweeping the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at a second straight worlds in July.

The Swede gave Ledecky her toughest test at the Olympics, finishing .35 behind the American for silver in the 200m free. She outsplit Ledecky in the final 50 meters.

But Sjöström is focusing on the 50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles at worlds, like she did two years ago. At the 2015 Worlds, Sjöström’s time leading off the 4x200m free relay was faster than Ledecky’s winning time in the individual 200m free.

Likewise, Sjöström was world No. 1 in the 200m free entering the Rio Olympics, by .09 over Ledecky.

This year, Sjöström has been on fire. She clocked personal bests in the 50m freestyle (No. 2 all time) and the 100m free in April, three months before most swimmers peak. She has not contested a single 200m freestyle this year.

Meanwhile, Ledecky came off a long NCAA season to post the fastest times in the world this year in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees this spring.

In the absence of Sjöström, Ledecky’s top rivals could be Swede Michelle Coleman (three tenths behind Ledecky in the 200m free this year) and Australian Emma McKeon (.34 behind Ledecky in the 200m free).

Then there’s Chinese 15-year-old Li Bingjie, who ranks second in the 400m and 800m frees this year, trailing Ledecky by 1.54 seconds and 5.45 seconds, respectively.

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Christian Coleman breaks world indoor 60m record (video)

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Christian Coleman is the fastest man of all time — indoors.

The 21-year-old U.S. sprinter broke the world indoor 60m record by clocking 6.37 seconds at his first meet of 2018 in South Carolina on Friday night.

Maurice Greene, the 2000 Olympic 100m champion, held the previous record of 6.39, which he clocked in 1998 and 2001.

The record must still go through ratification procedures, which requires a drug test at the meet.

The 60m is the indoor equivalent of the outdoor 100m. They are the shortest sprints contested at their respective world championships.

Coleman, a 4x100m prelim relay runner at the Rio Olympics, has blossomed into arguably the early 2020 Olympic 100m favorite.

He most memorably clocked a 40-yard dash of 4.12 seconds last spring, which is one tenth faster than the NFL Combine record.

Then in August, Coleman took 100m silver behind Justin Gatlin at the world outdoor championships, beating Usain Bolt in the Jamaican’s final individual race.

There are no world outdoor championships this year, but Coleman could go for the world indoor 60m title in Birmingham, Great Britain, in March.

Coleman’s mark is the first men’s world record in an event contested at a world championships since Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson‘s 400m world record at the Rio Olympics.

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IOC creates pool of Russians eligible for PyeongChang Olympics

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee said Friday it has created a pool of 389 Russians who are eligible to compete under a neutral flag at next month’s Winter Olympics amid the country’s doping scandal.

An IOC panel whittled down an initial list of 500 to create what the IOC calls “a pool of clean athletes.”

That could potentially make it possible for Russia to meet its target of fielding around 200 athletes in PyeongChang — slightly fewer than in Sochi in 2014, but more than in Vancouver in 2010.

It wasn’t immediately clear why 111 other Russians were rejected by the IOC.

The IOC didn’t list the athletes who were accepted or rejected but said it hadn’t included any of the 46 the IOC previously banned for doping at the Sochi Olympics.

Valerie Fourneyron, the former French Sports Minister leading the invitation process, said the pool also left out any Russians who had been suspended in the past for doping offenses.

“This means that a number of Russian athletes will not be on the list,” she said. “Our work was not about numbers, but to ensure that only clean athletes would be on the list.”

That would appear to rule out potential Russian medal contenders like former NHL hockey player Anton Belov and world champion speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, both of whom served bans in the past but have since resumed competing.

“More than 80 percent of the athletes in this pool did not compete at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014,” the IOC said in a statement. “This shows that this is a new generation of Russian athletes.”

The IOC will use the pool list to issue invitations to Russian athletes to compete in PyeongChang, after checking their record of drug testing and retesting some samples they gave previously.

The IOC also said it recommended barring 51 coaches and 10 medical staff “associated with athletes who have been sanctioned” for Sochi doping.

The IOC has allowed the Russian Olympic Committee to select its preferred athletes despite being suspended by the IOC last month over drug use and an elaborate cover-up at the Sochi Olympics, including swapping dirty samples for clean urine.

Russian sports officials say they simply want to give the IOC recommendations to ensure that top athletes aren’t accidentally left out in favor of reserves.

The Russians will officially be known as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” and they will wear gray and red uniforms that don’t feature any Russian logos.

If they win gold medals, the Olympic flag will be flown and the Olympic anthem played.

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